First tackle: Cook's miraculous knee carrying the Bunnies
Damien Cook's knee is a minor miracle, with unbelievable recuperative powers. Last week during the Rabbitohs victory over the Knights, Cook looked to be in so much pain, that some speculated he might have picked up a season-ending injury. He soldiered on and ended up scoring an 80-metre individual try to wrap up the victory.
On Saturday night as the halftime siren rang out, Cook was down again and clutching at his troublesome knee. He hobbled off the field only to return after the break to play an instrumental role in the Rabbitohs second half blitz. He passed his own fitness test in the 78th minute of the game when he picked up a Mitchell Moses grubber kick near halfway, darted around and through the Eels defence before wrong footing the cover defence of Clint Gutherson to score.
After the game he explained that there was no structural damage, just a lot of pain from a knock, that he had to manage. Rabbitohs supporters will be hoping he can manage the pain and continue his excellent form for two more victories this season. Blues fans will be hoping he can manage three more weeks after that.
Second tackle: Costly thuggery from JWH
If discipline is a quality you want in your front row forwards then Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is not the man for you. Four minutes into the elimination final between his Roosters and the Raiders, with both teams throwing jabs and taking turns in possession, JWH charged through to put pressure on a Jack Wighton kick. He wasn't even the first Rooster on the scene but he still felt the need to throw out an arm, collecting Wighton across the chest and face. Instead of the Roosters working their way out of their 20 metres in possession, they were instead forced to defend their line.
Shortly after they found it impossible to stop a rampaging Josh Papalii who crossed for the first try of the game. Not only did they concede six points, but star five-eighth Luke Keary clashed heads in trying to stop Papalii and left the field for a HIA. He somehow passed the test and returned but was noticeably off his game.
Twenty minutes into the game and JWH was at it again, penalised for another high tackle, putting the Green Machine deep on the attack once more. This time, after a couple of tackle restarts, we saw an incredible individual run by Joseph Tapine, who fended off Keary three times to score. It took the Raiders to a surprise 16-0 lead.
For all his aggressive running, tackling and leadership, JWH's ill-discipline can prove very costly.
Third tackle: Gutho magic falls short
After trailing 8-0 early against the Rabbitohs, the Eels fought their way back into the game through six minutes of offloading forwards and the brilliance of their captain and fullback Clint Gutherson.
The first Eels' try was set up by Junior Paulo who reversed into the Rabbitohs defence fifteen metres out from their line. Gutherson arrived at the exact moment Paulo was ready to slip him a pass, pierced the defence and strolled over.
The next try came from the very next possession with Shane Lane poking his head through the line 40 metres out before slipping a ball to the perfectly placed Gutherson once again. He streaked away, turned fullback Corey Allan inside out and threw his pass to winger George Jennings who did well to pick it up off his boots before diving over in the corner.
The Gutherson show was not over. At the end of the next set of tackles, an Eels bomb was dropped by the Rabbitohs. From the ensuing centre-field scrum the ball was swept left to Gutherson who swerved around the defence to crash over out wide. Mitchell Moses converted all three tries to give the Eels an 18-8 lead, sending the limited crowd at Bankwest Stadium wild.
Sadly for Gutherson, the Eels and the fans, the second half would be all Rabbitohs. Gutherson even made a costly error, spilling a Damien Cook grubber kick to allow Bayley Sironen to score in the 62nd minute. However, his overall excellence was enough for Brad Fittler to name him in the extended Blues squad for State of Origin.
Fourth tackle: Costly moment for Roosters
They say big moments win the big games. Trailing 6-0 in the 13th minute of their clash with the Raiders, a Roosters backline move 10 metres out appeared to break down as a pass flew between two decoy runners to bounce on the ground. Fortuitously the ball bounced off a Raiders player's boot into the arms of James Tedesco who kept the movement going by passing it to Josh Morris. Morris drew the only remaining defender and looked to pass to his unmarked winger Daniel Tupou, but Tupou simply wasn't there.
The lanky Roosters winger had stopped when he saw the ball on the ground and was walking along, ten metres behind the play. Switching off had cost his team a certain four points at a vital time in the game. The Roosters went on to lose by four points, the big moment missed by Tupou proving very costly.
Fifth and last: Moses miss missed by Eels
Eels veteran Ray Price would have choked on his beer in the 62nd minute of Paramatta's loss to the Rabbitohs when a relatively easy penalty goal attempt from Mitchell Moses hit the upright flush and bounced back 20 metres. Price famously stood with his back to kickers in that situation, watching the posts for a rebound, insisting that you should always be ready for the unexpected.
The Eels were so confident in their kicker's ability to slot the simple kick that most had started retiring to their own half of the field. When the ball hit the turf, there were only Rabbitohs in pursuit. Dane Gagai regathered the bouncing ball and at the end of the set of six, a Damien Cook grubber kick saw a rare Gutherson handling error result in a back-breaking Rabbitohs try to Bayley Sironen.
The kick from Moses would have levelled the scores at 20, instead the Rabbitohs went ahead 26-18 and went on to win 38-24.
Handover: Rare Tedesco blunder ends hat-trick hopes
You will watch a lot of games involving James Tedesco before you see him make a mistake like the one that allowed a Raiders try with 10 minutes remaining in their elimination final.
With both teams trading blows and the Roosters right back in the battle, behind 16-12, George Williams stabbed a grubber kick through 15 metres out from the Roosters line. Tedesco, one the best fullbacks in the game, had the ball covered before it skewed away and behind him.
With Tedesco sprawled across the SCG turf, Jack Wighton ran through to ground the ball. The conversion took the Raiders to a 22-12 lead.
Proving you can never count a champion out, Tedesco did his best to make up for the error. In the 74th minute he sent a brilliant pass to a charging Sonny Bill Williams. Williams slipped the ball to Sitili Tupouniua who batted it back on to Tedesco in support for a try that put them back within four points with five minutes to play. The Raiders held on and the Roosters' reign was over.